Playworker Careers

How to become playworker

What does a playworker do?

Playworkers work with children of school age in out-of- school settings. These may include breakfast clubs, after-school clubs, playbuses, holiday playschemes, play centres, youth groups and adventure playgrounds. Different playwork settings are run in different ways, but all aim to give the children and young people choices about how they spend their leisure time.

Playworkers offer a range of activities and provide children with a safe place to play, socialise, try out new things or just spend quiet time. They are responsible for health and safety, and must ensure safety procedures are followed, but also encourage children to be aware of their own safety, and that of others. Playworkers will give first aid if needed.

Playworkers might find themselves involved in creative activities, games, drama, cooking, taking children on outings, or talking to a child about his/her worries, all in the same day, and no two days are the same.

Children who attend playwork settings come from all walks of life and will each have different abilities and personalities. Playworkers need to be able to engage effectively with all of them, and to judge how much support they may need.

At the end of each day, the playworker will evaluate the day's activities and update any records. They may liaise with parents, carers, and sometimes other professionals. They must follow the correct procedures if they are concerned about the welfare of any of the children using the service.

What's the working environment like for a playworker?

Playworkers may work full-time or part-time. Most playwork is needed when schools are closed - in the evenings, at weekends and during school holidays.

Playwork takes place indoors and outdoors, in various settings, including adventure playgrounds, schools, community centres, parks or church halls, or on a play bus or custom-built van. It is an active role, involving lifting, bending and carrying.

What does it take to become a playworker?

To be a playworker, you should:

  • be able to build good relationships with children, their parents and carers
  • understand the needs of children and young people
  • be aware of health and safety issues
  • work well as part of a team
  • have strong communication skills and be good at listening to children
  • be patient and tolerant
  • have good organisational skills and the ability to plan activities with children
  • be creative and flexible, able to adapt if children don’t wish to take part in a planned activity
  • have stamina
  • be aware of equal opportunities issues
  • encourage fair and caring behaviour among the children
  • be interested in learning more about play and playwork.

Both paid or unpaid experience working with children will be a huge advantage in this role. There are no entry requirements for this job however you can train for playwork qualifications whilst you work. 

Playworker career opportunities

Playworkers are employed by local authorities, voluntary organisations or private companies. There are some full- time jobs but most are part-time. Some are seasonal, for instance in the school holidays.

The number of jobs for playworkers is growing quickly. There is a National Childcare Strategy which is planning for a huge expansion of opportunities for children’s play, care and education.

Experienced playworkers can progress to supervisory or management roles. They can become self-employed and set up and manage one or more after-school clubs. With the right qualifications they could specialise in play development, play training, or play therapy.

It may be possible to move into other related areas as teaching assistant or youth worker.

Playworkers may be able to work abroad, especially with holiday companies.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about becoming a playworker that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

77-91 New Oxford St
Advice Line: 08000 933300

Childcare Link
Tel: 08000 960296

DFES Children's Workforce: Qualifications